Scott Hanselman

The 2004 Africa Trip in Pictures

April 30, '04 Comments [6] Posted in NDC | Africa
Sponsored By

I'm up...actually I was up at 5am.  Can't sleep, so why not post some pictures now that we're home and I've got 3Mbps of bandwidth. :)  We went to a mall called Cresta in South Africa to find an internet cafe.  It appeared that 14 machines in this particular cafe were sharing one 128kbps ISDN line.  Ouch.  Needless to say, Oddpost was unusable, so posting to the blog was unlikely to happen.  Additionally, I didn't have any GPRS support for my Blackberry. :(  So much for the world phone.  It worked in Spain and South Africa (GSM) but was useless in Morocco and Zimbabwe.

I know posting personal pics of trips and such is gratuitous, but it's my family, eh? :) Either way, I hope you find it all interesting.


We stayed with my brother-in-law Vusi at a 'Cluster Home' in Johannesburg.  The most striking thing to me about South Africa is the pervasive and in-your-face security.  EVERYONE has a fence.  And not a white-picket fence, but a concertina razor wire electrified fence.  Security is a HUGE industry.  Automatic doors, alarms, motion detectors.  One of the most interesting and obvious things is that every parking lot has a number of guards.  We went to Makro (Costco) and there were over two dozen security guards watching the cars.  They also help you back out of your spot and you tip them 2 Rand.  The mall itself also has at least a dozen guards.  This is odd since I have only ever seen ONE guard at a mall in the states, and he was guarding Santa.

This is a typical breakfast for the family.  That's beans, eggs and liver.  The Diet Coke (Coke Light) is mine. :)

This is Mañana (tommorow).  Mo and I had the pleasure of naming her.  However, everyone calls her uFatty - she's 18 months old.

This is Mo's Mom when we all took the family out to the Market Theater for dinner.  She works very hard and she deserves everything.  She's raised seven kids and raised them well.

This is a wholesale meat market where we picked up a few hundred Rands worth of Lamb and Beef.  You have to buy in bulk or you'd go broke.  They cut the meat in front of you.  Not sure if it'd pass U.S. Health Standards, but then again, does it matter?

I discovered this picture when I was uploading the photos.  Apparently younger brother Bongani got ahold of the camera and wanted to take a look at himself.  This photo just makes me laugh, as Bongani doesn't typically smile.  Looks like he's a closet goofball. :)

Not only is there a 'Portland Store' which is hilarious to me, there's also an 'Oregon Market.'  Madness! 

After we left South Africa in a rush we went to Lower Gweru.  Here is the beginning of uNki's grave.

Hundreds of people came from all over to see him honored.  Many spoke and addressed the crowd.  It was a full day's event.  Many of the women sang in a choir for the entire day.

In Bulawayo, there's a rural school that Mo's Mom has taught at for the last 20 years.  Mollar has worked her company to help support the school remotely.  Through their donations and hard work, they've build toilets, a school office and new classrooms.  The next step is getting electricity and running water to the school.

Here's a few happy ones to end on.

As we look towards tomorrow...

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

facebook twitter subscribe
About   Newsletter
Sponsored By
Hosting By
Dedicated Windows Server Hosting by ORCS Web

And miles to go before I sleep...

April 30, '04 Comments [3] Posted in NDC | Africa
Sponsored By

There is a strange, almost meditative (zen-like?) state that can only be reached by the unique combination of extreme travel, extreme jetlag, and extreme emotional distress. 

I'm on a flight from Chicago to Portland with my wife.  We have been the road for the better part of the last month.  First, the NDC in Morocco, then a few weeks in South Africa. 

However, the vacation took a turn.  We received a 3am call that Mollar's dad had another stroke (he had one 8 months ago) in Lower Gweru, Zimbabwe.  We struggled with flights, rentals, borrowed cars, car repairs, and packing.  We set off but he died suddenly, exactly one day before we arrived.  He was 59, and is survived by 9 children.  We arrived in Bulawayo and immediately got off the plane and started driving in brother Vusimuzi's Mazda 323 the three hours from !Bulawayo to Gweru (he drove up twelve hours from Joburg, while we used air tickets for Bulawayo).  We worked all day and all night to find a coffin and prepare the body.  We looked at every coffin in that tiny town and ended up having one driven in late at night from another town for about 2 million (!) Zim Dollars.  I carried the Z$2M in a series of hidden pouches filled with 10- and 20-thousand dollar bearer cheques; the largest denomination bill is only Z$1000.  The rate money is exchanged on the “parallel” market is now 1:5200.  It was 1:305 when we were in Zim two years ago.  They have the highest inflation in the world at about 600% per year.  We secured the coffin at about 8pm and continued driving east four more hours to Harare to get older sister Felicia, whow flew in from Arusha via Dar Es Salaam and Nairobi.  Then we slept from midnight to 4am at a friend's in the high density cluster homes of Harare's suburbs and set off before dawn to drive back to Gweru for the 10am funeral in the bush, on Mo's father's “homestead” in Lower Gweru.  Lower Gweru is about 100km outside the small town of Gweru, which itself is between Bulawayo and Harare (which is kind of the “Aberdeen, Washington” that splits Portland and Seattle” if you get my drift).  We drive on tar for a while then it's all dirt, then potholes and rocks.  The rocks shred the cars exhaust and underbody and we'll deal with that later.

We get out to “ekaya” - home - and see th small hut that he lived in.  He raised cows, had a Maize field until his stroke.  There's no power, water, or cell phone coverage.  (There's also not a white guy for a few hundred miles, save me.)  But, my little bit of Ndebele and Mollar's family's kindness put me at ease.  I'm “mkwenyanna” - the son-in-law - and I'm interloping here.  There is a heated debate with the family and the “headman” and “chief” about where to bury the body.  It's entirely in Ndebele and I get every 3rd or 4th word, so I hear “blah blah we will go blah blah white man blah blah then we eat.”

This lasts about 4 hours before a decision is made.  People from all over the countryside have gathered, as he was a very kind and well-loved man.  The headman's count was 753 people.  Then we buried him.

We drove 4 hours back to Bulawayo, which was hosting the Zimababwe International Trade Fair, and as we arrived at the airport we heard drumming and singing as a throng (literally a throng) of people tried to push through that airport's single metal detector.  Turns out President Rober Mugabe (number 4 on Time Magazine's dictactor list after Quadafi, Saddam and the president of Equatorial Guinea.  Why we invaded Iraq but allow Fidel, Bob, Momar and these other guy's is beyond me) was arriving.  We jetted away literally as Bob's (Mugabe) private plane was being escorted in by a miltary escort. 

After the drive, we flew 2 hours to Joburg - 4 hour layover - then 11 hours to Madrid - 5 hour layover - then 10.5 hours to Chicago - 2 hour layover and 2 hours in immigration anbd customs - and now a final 4 hour Chicago to Portland flight that is one hour late, before we drive the final hour to home in NW Portland.

I'm so tired I'm on autopilot.  I'm literally subsisting on pure momentum (and presumably stored glucagon).  I'm healthy though; lost about 10-15 pounds eating and living as one does when one's income (avg. per capita) is US$100-US$300 a month. 
Americans have no idea how “good” they have it.  We paid about US$5 a gallon for gas while we were there - remeber the per capita...that's not exageration.  Walking, car sharing, emergency taxis (VW buses filled with 15+ people) are the mode of transport.  Queuing for petrol for hours.

I'll post pics of the trip as well as some interesting linguistic observations on the differences between isiZulu and isiNdebele, as well as our experiences as an interracial couple in South Africa on the 10 year anniversarry of their free elections. 

Then we'll return this blog to its regularly scheduled programming.

...and miles to go before I sleep. 
--------------------------
Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

facebook twitter subscribe
About   Newsletter
Sponsored By
Hosting By
Dedicated Windows Server Hosting by ORCS Web

Now...South Africa

April 18, '04 Comments [3] Posted in NDC | Africa
Sponsored By

We're here Jo-burg, South Africa.  Mo's mom Khanye and sister Zandile have taken the bus down from Zimbabwe to hang out with us.  The house is PACKED.  We've also got brothers Vusi, Bongani, and Senlot, not to mention Vusi's fiancee Philele.  Also present is the cutest baby ever, Manana.

Here's Philele, Manana, and Vusi.  Mo is in the kitchen in the back, doing the dishes.  It's traditional for guests to help out.

The connection at this cafe is ridiculously slow, so I'll have to write and upload later.

Here's Za at the Airport as we're walking to the car.

Manana is alergic to something in the garden, so she's smeared with lotion. :)

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

facebook twitter subscribe
About   Newsletter
Sponsored By
Hosting By
Dedicated Windows Server Hosting by ORCS Web

More Magic in Morocco at the NDC

April 14, '04 Comments [3] Posted in Corillian | NDC | ASP.NET | DasBlog | Internationalization | Speaking | Africa
Sponsored By

The conference's second, day was today, with my session présentée en anglais, avec traduction simultanée by U.N. Certified Translators.  My translators were very nice and very good.  I met with them beforehand and we discussed a glossary of terms, agreed on a few things, then began.  I really recommend meeting your translator if you ever find yourself in a real-time situation.  They are truly your voice, and they speak for you.  Why not meet your voice and see what they have to say? :)

After my talk on Internationalization (i18n) in ASP.NET, Mo and I hung out with our wonderful new friend Rachid from Algeria.  Rachid Berkani Ingénieur développement à Cogitar en Algérie, Depuis plus de 10 ans comme développeur et chef de projet dans le développement et intégration d’applications and is a very kind person as well!  We had a very long walk and talk, and visited the Hassan II Mosque again (we drove by before) and walked around it.  It was afternoon prayer, and as non-Muslims we stayed out of the way.  Visiting hours are in the morning.

You literally have to see it to believe it.  It's immense, and it's half built on the sea, and half on land.

The Mosque juts out of the port and is largely over the water.

There is no picture I could show you that would accurately express the scope of this.

There is a man to the left of this side - that might help give a sense of scale.  This is one of the small fountains to the left of the Mosque.

Here is the pool where we had lunch, outside the Hyatt's conference center.  The conference center, and the entire conference is pure class.  Lunch, while crowed, was very good.

Here is Ingo, Clemens and myself.  Sadly while I share German/Austrian ancestry with these gentlemen, I did not inherit this thing called "cool."

The conference rooms are nice; here's the Moroccan Minister of Education speaking to the group.

We were also blessed enough to go to dinner at Malek's Parents' house.  If you can call it a house; it's beautifully decorated palace.  The food topped Chez Ali - it was plentiful and wonderful and truly authentic.  His parents were very gracious hosts and incredibly thoughtful.

Here's Pat and Clemens, Stephen Forte, Ingo Rammer, Malek, and Yann Faure.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

facebook twitter subscribe
About   Newsletter
Sponsored By
Hosting By
Dedicated Windows Server Hosting by ORCS Web

A thousand words is worth one picture

April 13, '04 Comments [3] Posted in NDC | Africa
Sponsored By

I'm more of a picture person while my wife is a prose person.  That said, here is a thousand of Mo's (my wife) words to go with my pictures.  This also marks Mo's first time blogging.

We arrived in Casablanca in one piece. True, it was a long, gruelling ride-- but here we are. We are both well, thank goodness, and in fine spirits.

We had a good trip. Our first "international incident" - and we've had a couple! - was when we were in the Madrid airport, waiting to connect to Casablanca. Ever the photographer, Scott thought it might be quite fun to take a picture of a sign that said "Morocco" - this being our first time there, excitement was in the air. He went ahead and did so, only to be accosted by a woman from El Al, the Israeli airline, which was close by. Those of you that are savvy travellers are probably aware of the fact that Israel apparently has THE safest airline in the world. I myself was not aware of this, and was quite fascinated to witness this exchange! Apparently one does not just willy-nilly take pictures of anyone or anything related to El Al - at least, not without permission. The lady made it very clear that Scott was to stop taking pictures right away... which, of course, he did. What was particularly interesting to me were the interview stands they had set up in the background. Before someone can board the plane there is an interview process they must go through (if they are suspicious in any way), which, I suppose, is how come they are the safest airline in the world! I was quite intrigued by how aggressively they guard their territory - even at the airport - and how seriously they take their responsibility! But we survived that minor incident, and eventually boarded the plane to Morocco.

I won't bore you with the details of that particular departure! Suffice it to say it was quite harrowing, what with the plane making sickly noises and all. However, it DID take off eventually, and we got to Morocco tired, hungry and quite grumpy. Travelling for so long will do that to one! I must admit I was underwhelmed by the security in Morocco. Given the Zimbabwean/American passports situation we have, I, as always, was given the suspicious and borderline rude treatment I get in most places around the world. Interestingly enough, while the process was a lot faster for Scott, the service was equally surly. We had 3 large suitcases, packed to the brim of course, 2 heavy carry-ons, and 2 back-packs. With all that we decided to try the "nothing to declare" line, and were immediately waived into the country, no questions asked. We shrugged and moved on to the exit line, where we had to go through the x-ray/security point. Again, the lack of attention there was quite worrisome. There was only one person manning the line, and he got into an argument with a traveller. He pulled him aside so they could argue without blocking anyone else's way, but while their backs were turned in heated argument, the rest of us just waltzed through. I shudder to think how many people went through that checkpoint without anyone looking at what they were carrying! And so, on that rather anticlimactic note, we had really arrived in Morocco.

I've always had a sense of home-coming when I get to an African country, but not so in Morocco. I'm having a hard time reminding myself that it is part of Africa, because it is not an Africa I know. Africans here are very light, and they dress in an unfamiliar manner. So that begs the question: what makes home home? If the smells are different, the spices exotic, the background din foreign, I guess I don't think I'm in Africa. Clearly for me I feel I have not arrived on the Motherland. Yet. Which is something I didn't expect. I had somehow imagined that Morocco would resonate with me, but I see that the old statement is true: Africa IS a large continent, and as such the west is very different from the south. I'm getting a crash course in French - it has been a while since I last used it, and believe me, it shows! But I have enough that I can (eventually!) make my point. Watching Scott is interesting, though, because for him this is a place where he has no voice. If one doesn't speak Arabic or French here, one is quite lost. The masses know very little English, so as one wanders around it is challenging to ask questions about the city's history, or to ask why certain things are done in a certain way because of the language barrier. And you guys know how many questions Scott has! So this is proving to be quite a challenge for him, if only because it is such an unusual situation for him.

We haven't seen much of Casablanca yet. That's because a few hours after we arrived we were wisked off to Marrakech. It's beautiful! We were travelling as a group, which always changes the dynamic and casts things in a different light. We went to a souk, a market, and I was impressed by all the color. The spices range anywhere from a deep blue to a dark red. Who knew that Saffron is red?! Anyway, wondering around that market, with the stench of sweaty armpits, over-eager people jumping out of stalls to try and sell us their wares, and the unmistakable smell of sewage hovering a litle too close for comfort, it was quite an experience. We didn't buy much, but enjoyed the experience. What has been a surprise to us, though, is the amount people smoke. It's almost as if smoking is as natural as drinking water when one is thirsty. The notion of 2nd hand smoke is nonexistant here - if you don't like people smoking in your face the message is: GO HOME. And even there you can't be sure someone won't puff in your face!

Last night we went to dinner and a show in Marrakech. We had lamb, and of course I had to try the fatty skin. I couldn't eat much of it, but the little I had wasn't bad! Made me wonder how people who eat that can be as slim and healthy as they are here. But I suppose it's because they work hard physically, and quickly use it up! The dinner and show were at a restaurant called 'Chez Ali', which is on the outskirts of Marrakech. Our host couldn't fit all of us in his car, so Scott and I and another couple said we'd take cabs. The first sign of trouble was that neither of the cab drivers knew where the restaurant was (We had to take 2 cabs, since each small cab could only fit 3 people, and there were 4 of us.) Then, when they finally figured it out they told us that small cabs (like the ones they were driving) are not allowed to go beyond a certain point in the city. You must, they told us, take a large cab ("un grand taxi") for that. So we asked them to take us to a grand taxi. However, perhaps because they wanted to make a quick buck, or because they thought they could get away with it, they decided (without consulting us, mind you) to take us directly to the restaurant. And wouldn't you know it, we were flagged down by a cop on the outskirts of the city, and told to turn back. So here were are, at 8.45pm-ish, on the outskirts of town parked by the side of the road, not quite sure where we are, and not sure where we're going. The long and the short of it is that the 2 cab drivers wound up bribing the cop to let us through, which made them both mad, because there was no way they were going to make any money on this trip! But they eventually got us to the infamous "Chez Ali", where we had a very decent meal and show!

I could type for hours, but I shall stop here for now. It's 7.30 pm on Tuesday evening as I type, and it's time to get ready for dinner. No one eats early here - dinner is at 9pm! In the meantime, I hope this finds you all in good health and high spirits.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

facebook twitter subscribe
About   Newsletter
Sponsored By
Hosting By
Dedicated Windows Server Hosting by ORCS Web
Page 1 of 3 in the NDC category Next Page

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.